Who am I?
I believe that public service is an opportunity for ordinary people to do extraordinary things – making our communities better every day through a commitment to build; to lift up; to collaborate. My dad was a UAW welder for 32 years. I grew up walking picket lines with him. That was where I first adopted my lifelong belief that standing up for your community and working hard for justice begins long before campaign speeches or Election Day.
I am fearless and I speak the truth. I am a proud progressive. And I have put my values into action serving my country and my state as an AmeriCorps member, a public policy expert on Capitol Hill, a small business owner, and for the past eleven years, a state and local elected official.
Some of my proudest achievements as a member of the Maryland General Assembly have been passing legislation to expand health care to children, protect reproductive rights for women, safeguard the environment, pass marriage equality, and abolish the death penalty.
I would be Maryland’s first woman governor and the nation’s first openly gay one – but I’m running to make a difference, not to make history.
Why am I running?
I love this state and I know that when we work together from the highest ranks of government to the streets of our neighborhoods, we can create more good, well paying jobs, improve our schools, and create safe and thriving communities across Maryland. I want to see Maryland live up to its full potential rather than settling for “good enough” and to do that, we need a Governor willing to take risks and do what’s right for the people rather than playing it safe and protecting status quo.
I have been a social justice advocate my entire life. When I was nine years old, my family had to endure living for six months on $45 a week strike pay. My father took me with him to the picket lines to teach me about having the courage of my convictions, standing up for what I believed, and witnessing how we are always stronger when we make our common struggles a united cause. Along the way, I met my local state senator, Penny Severns, who very eloquently fought for and stood along-side all the families that were struggling in this labor battle. She used her role in elected office to help bring people together to solve big problems. I was inspired. I knew I wanted to put my talents to work in the same way. She mentored me, gave me jobs working with her campaigns and at the state capitol, and always encouraged me to believe in my ability to help create positive change in people’s lives.
I’m proud of the progressive victories I have helped Maryland achieve while serving in the General Assembly over the past seven years. But to truly seize the opportunity to take on our state’s biggest challenges with a progressive commitment to reform, I need to be the person setting the agenda as Governor.
We must work to close our educational achievement gaps; strengthen our middle class; and tackle criminal justice reform in meaningful ways.
•I am proud of Maryland’s reputation of having the nation’s top schools. I’m also acutely aware of how many don’t fit this image. We suffer one of the worst achievement gaps in the country, perpetuating race-based cycles of poverty.
In the Assembly I’ve worked to secure funding for school construction in Baltimore City, where some schools are in worse conditions than prisons. Last year we passed Maryland DREAM, ensuring that Maryland high school graduates who are on the path to US citizenship receive the same in-state tuitions as their classmates.
A systemic and far-reaching problem like closing the achievement gap calls for transformative reform including universal pre-K and major investments in afterschool programs. We need to renew our commitment to teachers with better pay and stronger pensions. We must bring creativity and innovation back into the classroom by ending the high stakes testing culture.
•To create a healthy economy in Maryland, we need to ensure that our working and middle class is thriving and growing.
It is not enough to merely create jobs; we need living wage jobs with good benefits coupled with guaranteed paid sick leave for every worker in Maryland. I have been a lead and co-sponsor for these policies in the legislature, and I am committed to making them a reality as governor.
As Governor, I will be committed to progressive tax reform including reliefs for the middle class. Last year I introduced legislation to close corporate loopholes and dedicate the new revenue as targeted tax relief for small businesses. Everyone needs to pay their fair share and for far too long, the middle class has been carrying too much of the burden.
Businesses all over Maryland suffer from congested and crumbling roads and bridges, a situation only made worse by our lack of adequate public transit. Our decaying schools face a $15 billion construction backlog. There is so much more we can do to expand our clean energy sources. I am committed to rebuilding Maryland’s transportation, school, and energy infrastructure.
•Our criminal justice system focuses too heavily on punishment when we should concentrate on rehabilitation. Many of our policies, including the treatment of youth offenders as adults, perpetuate high recidivism rates.
Earlier this year Maryland overturned the death penalty, an effort I have long supported as a bill sponsor and advocate. It’s also time to stop putting non-violent drug offenders into our criminal justice system when a fine would act as a more appropriate punishment. I support decriminalization of small quantities of marijuana.
We can’t just pass legislation to check things off a to-do list. Real and meaningful change happens when we govern to make a difference with transformative solutions. I’m excited to take on Maryland’s biggest challenges with big solutions.
My DFA Values
I hold these values incredibly closely. We’re running this campaign out in communities across Maryland – not just giving speeches or holding rallies, but working side-by-side with our neighbors to solve problems today. I know that many Marylanders are ready to join a movement that strengthens this great state—one that honors the work that has been done, and recognizes the challenges ahead.
My campaign is based on that value of community. I believe that the way you campaign is an indication of the way you will govern. As my campaign travels the state we promote and engage in service projects to truly connect with communities. I do not intend to sit idly behind a desk, as a candidate or a governor. I will stand shoulder to shoulder with community leaders, taking on big issues and winning.
Maryland is often held up as one of the most progressive states in the country, with top schools, research, and median income. But this successful characterization of our state is too generalized. Many parts of Maryland have some of the worst schools, economic decline, and limited access to health care. To solve these problems, we do not have to pit winners against losers; our budget decisions and public policies do not have to award some over others. True liberty is achieved when all of our communities are thriving, regardless of racial or economic divides.
We need a different governing vision in this state – one that is the same for our neighbors who are struggling financially as it is for our affluent communities. It’s not okay to promote casinos and fracking for poorer communities – jobs that bring crime, addiction, and poverty, public health threats and environmental degradation -- and then reserve technology, health care, and other research-based jobs that invest in the strengths and ingenuity of our people for our wealthier jurisdictions. We are one Maryland and we must invest in the human capital of all of our people and protect everyone from decisions made for a quick dollar at the expense of our communities.
My Campaign is People Powered!
We are counting on you! I have answered the call of progressives looking to move our blue state even further with a Governor who's willing to roll up her sleeves and get to work.
While my opponents are focused on insider endorsements, we are winning in living rooms across the state. We have prioritized meet and greets in the homes of progressive supporters, and as a result, the enthusiasm gap between my campaign and those of my opponents is growing by the day.
We are also engaging the grassroots community online about real issues. This summer, I wrote a letter to Gov. Martin O’Malley, calling on him to create a commission examining statewide training protocols for how law enforcement officers treat people with intellectual and developmental disabilities after 26 year old Ethan Saylor, a man with Down Syndrome, was killed last winter in a very avoidable run in with police officers in a movie theater in Frederick County. I then partnered with Change.org and Ethan’s family to bring thousands of voices into the policy-making conversation. Over 340,000 signatures were collected and presented to the Governor, who has now committed to enacting new statewide protocols.
Grassroots isn’t just a campaigning style—it’s also a governing style. When I become Governor I will be committed to bringing more voices to the table and ensuring that all communities are represented as we make important decisions to improve the lives of all Marylanders. That starts today with your help.